Women in Politics: A Review of Common and Islamic Law Provision
OBJECTIVE OF THE STUDY
My objective of study is to enlighten women on their roles in politics as to whether they can participate in politics, this project serves as enlightenment for females because the constitution, The Noble Quran, also the Hadith ,including the jurist are also in supports that women should be given chances to participate in politics no matter how small the post might be. They should not be looked down upon; they deserve the right to participate in politics.
This project will encourage women and also know their civil rights, that they can participate in election that is they cant vote and be voted for. Eg in Kwara State8, among their gubernatorial candidate was a female who was Sen. Gbemisola Rukayat Saraki, thou, she was condemned, but still stood on her feet that what a man can do a woman can do better. Also during the presidential primaries9 in PDP which was held in Abuja. A lady stood up that she wants to become a president (Mrs. Sarah Jubril), but she was denied her civic right because it was only her vote that counts, nobody voted for her.
Also this long essay is to enlightened members of the public that a woman can participate in politics, they should not be looked down upon, they should be encourage, there is an adage which says, if you train a woman you have trained the whole nation, the if you train a man you have trained a single person.
AN OVER VIEW OF WOMEN PARTICIPATION IN POLITICS: THE NIGERIAN EXPERIENCE
In Nigeria, despite the significant roles of women before and after independence the development of corresponding economic, social and political power women are still wanting. The fact that the military ruled for years helps to institutionalize violations of human rights that resulted in very severe, political, social and
economic crises. These anomalies have impacted negatively on the development of women’s rights, despite the many international norms and institutions designed to advance the cause of women. This essay will underscore the extent of discrimination in this light and properly examines the ideal status of women in Nigeria under the relevant statues.
The challenge of women’s participation in the political process in Nigeria has gained additional significance, since the return of democracy. The last election saw men taking over with their male dominated role of politics which often times leaves women with option of either rejecting politics together or rejecting male-style politicians. This project shall proffer effective, possible solutions and recommendations to those constraints in bid to ensure equality as guaranteed by the natural and male enable rights bestowed on all and sundry with women inclusive.
Although, the rights of women are specifically included as part of the fundamental human rights of all the people, women are not given rights to influence policy and programme affecting not only women but human race generally. Gender discrimination is also visible in many of our political life. This is due in part to socialization process which excludes women from activities.
Even when women make efforts to physically enter these fields the gender imbalance continuous in form of dominant male perspective. This long essaytherefore seeks to examine the right of women in Nigeria and their level of participation in politics. It also seeks to examine the factors militating against women involvement in political activities of the country, with a view providing solution to those problems their participation in politics.
Traditionally, there is a tendency for people to frown at the idea that women should participate in politics. Politics is said to be the science or area of governance. It involves the distribution of scare resources and those who decide how wealth and other resources should be distributed among the masses usually enjoy prestige, authority and power. The process of acquiring this type of power
often entails some intrigues, bargaining and negotiation. For some strange reason, people assume that, men have a monopoly of those skills, thus women are often excluded from politics and public life in general. The women are expected to operate solely within the family and home arena as wives, mothers and homemakers. Politics is said to be too rough a game for women.
Many other reasons have advanced for justifying the exclusion of women from participating in politics. But the most commonly mentioned ones relate to Natureand Religion, the protagonists of nature theory claim that Mother Nature has bequeathed through the hormones bestowed on them by Nature tender them intuitive, tender and compassionate and of a caring disposition. Consequently, they are said to exhibit more affection and empathy-attributes which makes them more person oriented. Women are thus exposed to be unassertive, docile and
submissive and the traditionally accepted “good woman” is one who doe not question whatever her husband says and who does not insist on having her way in he assembly of men what this means in effect is that she leaves all decision making to the man, regardless of his known capabilities (or the lack of them).
Dependency on man is thus regarded a virtue in women and their perpetual subjugation to men is considered natural.
A REVIEW OF COMMON AND ISLAMIC LAW PROVISION ON WOMEN PARTICIPATION IN POLITICS
The chapter is based on the view of common and Islamic law as to whether a woman can participate in politics. Although, after Colonization and Military regime which contributed largely to smoldering of women’s participation in politics in Nigeria does not seem to be moving away from one that deliberately frustrates woman. Islamic view varies from the time of the Prophet Mohammed (SAW) to the time of the Khalifahs and also to the time of different Islamic school of thought all have different opinion because of the advancement and new technology that is happening around the globe. This because during the time of the Prophet Muhammad (SAW) there was this saying that he was reported to have
This chapter will be based on the similarities of the common and Islamic laws i.e. what they both have in common. The two parties give right to women participation in politics, they believe that men and women have equal right to vote and be voted for. They both believe that a woman should be given a chance to be heard of also that they should be recognized in the society.
In every general rule there is always an exception, since the two parties agree (common and Islamic law), that women can participate in politics but there is an exception in the two parties, that is where the dissimilarities comes in, because the two parties, varies. This and many more will be discussed in this chapter.
CONCLUSION AND RECOMMENDATION
The principle of equality is entrenched in the Nigerian Constitution. It is enshrined in its preamble fundamental rights, fundamental objectives and directive principles of state policy. Hence references abound regarding the non-discriminating and equality between men and women in the Nigerian constitution.
Politics is all about services. It entails placing the right thing correctly and providing basic necessities of life to the populace. The central duty of governments everywhere and at all times is to provide the greatest good number of its subjects. Ideal democracy has been recognized as a system government in which the people through consensus or representations, exercise equal control over issues affecting them as the citizen. Nigeria has a democratic setting with the executive, legislature and judiciary as the three arms of government.
Statistically, after the general polls from 2003-2007, the President and 36 States Governors were all men, with only 3 elected women deputy Governors. Among them, one became the Governor by default, albeit, for a brief period. During the stated period, out of the 109 Senators in the Senate at the National Assembly four were women and out of the 360 members of House of Representative, only 23 were women members in the House of Representatives out of the 360 members. In the court of Appeal of Nigeria, as at September, 2010 there are 21 female Justices out of a total of 65.
Politics, leadership and governance in places such as Nigeria, like most other things in life are not exclusive preserves of men. They involve partnership, joint efforts and holistic team work. It is certain that Nigeria is not an Islamic state neither is it a secular state. It is a pluralistic, multi-religious state. It is branded that Muslims are the majority, though Christians do not concede to this assertion and the last census exercise did not help to clarify the position as it left out last issue of religion in the gathering of its data.
It has been said, that realism is facing reality. If we as Muslim combat, condemn and confront the emergence of a Muslim leader on the basis of gender, we will be faced with a situation ,if non Muslim female political leader should emerge and rule over us whether we like it or not. Assuredly we will be left stranded in our own web and filled with regrets. This is more so because political freedom of choice which is availing and available to all, embodies the right of any person female or male to run for any office in the land and any political post, provided they are tested and competent. Islam teaches and recognizes that political leadership in such a setting as ours should be determined by free and fair exercise of political choice. The choice in question is not the Hobson’s choice, which is as good as no choice Islam abhors discrimination, imposition and monopoly in virtually all things.
Leadership entails responsibility for the welfare of others and that is why public office is a public trust, so who says that men are more trustworthy than women, just by the mere fact that they are men. Men consider themselves to be privileged. It is not surprising because “it is an historical fact that privileged people / group seldom give up their privileges voluntarily.47
One of the basic problems of women in Islam is men and men are by no means intrinsically better than women. The only recognized distinctive factor, that make any person regardless of gender, class or race to be better than another is Taqwa, piety (Q49:13).This is the time for us to resist and review both our approach and attitude to this vexed question of political leadership of women in Islam, whichwould we rather have, a female political leader or a non-Muslim female head. So, if the best man for the job is a woman for goodness sake let her do it. Piety and men should distinguish one person from the other and not such things that are purely accidental such as birth or gender.
Martin Luther King Jr. We need to be wary and avoid unnecessary bigotry. We should be bothered not only with the present but also the future and today and tomorrow. It would beparadoxical or ironical, if Muslims reject to resist the emergence of a Muslim female political leader, only to end up being saddled with a non female political head. The scenario may seem far fetched but it has already strung us directly in the face.
Contemporary Muslim scholars argued that Islam is not vehemently against the notion of active participation of women in politics. The reservation of cautionary note is the notion of active participation of women in politics. The reservation and cautionary note is the dire need to protect the ideal Islamic home front, since the organic institution of family cannot and should not be neglected. Prophet Muhammad (SAW) says: “People are all equal as the teeth of a comb”.
In my opinion, after the long essay, is that women should not feel that they have been given upper hand and they should now forget their primary roles that they are wives, mothers, aunties, sisters, daughters etc to some people who needs their love and support. They (women) should play their roles in a perfect way, they should establish their homes first before diverting to anything, because if she cannot perform her primary role as a wife, how will she be able to perform her secondary duty which she is clamoring for?
The ball is now in their court, so it depends on how and why they want to go for it without affecting her primary roles. Some believe that house-maids are there to feel in, when housemaid, starts to take the primary role of a wife and also a mother, then there is trouble in the house. So we (women) should sit tight before clamoring that we want to venture into politics, without affecting our primary roles, so lets think about the people we are going to affect negatively for life. So its time for us to wear our thinking cap before deciding.
THE NOBLE QUR’AN
- Aisha Lemu: Muslim Women and Marriage under Shariah, Rights andProblems faced. Federal Ministry of Justice Lagos, 1989.
- Awa O. Development, Women and History.African development xviii. Okeke (1993)
- Brett A. “Why Gender is a development issue in Wallance T. and Candida (eds) Changing perception writing on gender and development Ottawa Publishing co.
- Kleinberg S. Retrieving Women History Changing Perception of role of women in politics society. Berguines co. (1980).
- Madinagu B.E. and Okoye F. Women Law and transition to Democracy. Printed by EL-Rafiu Print Kano edited by Kole Ahmed (1993).
- Prof. Jemila M. Nasir: Women rights and Islam in the contemporary world (2006).